Building The Bike For Project Transrockies Challenge

To get ready for the TransRockies Challenge, the first item I’m going to talk about is the bike I’ve built for the event. In addition to providing a test bed for new components, I believe I have something that will function incredibly well for the Trans Rockies Challenge, and in general.

Remember that the purpose of this project bike was to create something that could be used for all-day wilderness riding or a 24-hour enduro event. Lightweight wasn’t the first objective due to durability concerns, but a downhill bike with 9′′ of rear wheel travel wouldn’t either. I needed something that could be pedaled up the hill and then handled the descent.

The frame: A Moots Cinco

On 12 April, I received the frame that would be used specifically for the Trans Rockies race, a custom Moots Cinco. I’ve seen my fair share of beautiful frames from Seven, Merlin, Moots, and Titus but I’m glad to say that this frame didn’t disappoint — it’s as nice as they come. The welds are clean and have a distinct quality found on all of the Moots’ frames and components.

Because Moots is a tiny firm, you can call and speak personally to the man who designs and welds your frame. In reality, the frame comes with a labor tag featuring the initials of everyone at Moots who worked on it throughout its creation. The frame has a lovely, brushed satin finish, so people can tell it’s a ti frame without shouting “see at me!” The rear swingarm, which employs Ventana-licensed technology, looks excellent and has shown to perform well in the field.

The drivetrain: meet the Rohloff Disc SpeedHub

I start every bike project by creating a bike for its intended function. My objective with this endeavor was to create something fit for the Trans Rockies. It had to be dependable, long-lasting, low-maintenance, and capable of performing in all weather conditions. Weight was not prioritized as much as the other elements.

Mike, one of SpokeWrench’s resident testers, has previously completed the Trans Rockies, so he was able to advise me on what to anticipate. When he raced in 2004, his bike became quite muddy, even without the addition of waist-high stream crossings. Mike basically warned me that at the conclusion of the race, I’ll most likely have to replace the drivetrain (derailleur, cassette, chain, and chainrings).

The derailleur system is great for cycling for all intents and purposes; it is efficient, dependable, lightweight, adaptable, and cost-effective. and requires little upkeep. However, when circumstances deteriorate, its performance suffers, as does its efficiency.

Keeping these considerations in mind, I decided to try something new.

The Rohloff Disc Speedhub comes into play. This hub has always piqued my interest, and I’ve created a couple for my clients. I’ve always wanted to review one, but I’ve never found an event that was long enough or tough enough to put it through its paces. What better way to put it through its paces than a six-day bike race over the Rocky Mountains?

When I was contemplating the Rohloff, I sat down and weighed the advantages and disadvantages of the hub:


  • Sealed from the elements (ie. mud-proof). No more chain suck and mix shifts. Performance is not affected in varying weather and trail conditions. Derailleur systems never perform the same as when they’re new and everything is clean.
  • Low maintenance. The benefit of having a closed system vs. an open derailleur system. Lube and go. 5000kms or once a season.
  • Durable and reliable from all accounts from other owners and customers. I know of tandem teams doing the Trans Alps using Rohloffs.
  • Efficient shifting system. The versatility of a derailleur system offers 14 gears with no overlap providing the same gear ratios of a 27-speed system. All 14 gears are evenly spaced out in 13.6% increases.
  • Ease of setup. Once they are set up initially, there are no more fine adjust screws to mess around with, cables, etc.

Wheels that are symmetric or “dishless” center the rim between the hub flanges. Dishless wheels distribute the load evenly by having identical spoke lengths, tensions, and angles on both sides of the wheel, rather than requiring half the spokes to bear the bulk of the weight. As a consequence, the wheel is stronger and more dependable.


This is most likely Rohloff’s most significant perceived disadvantage. When broken down, the cost is relatively close to a typical derailleur system like SRAM 9.0/X.0 or Shimano XT/XTR with any aftermarket rear hub. Remember that derailleur systems need equivalent high-performance chainrings and front derailleurs to function properly.

People often consider just the price of the rear derailleur, hub, and cassette. I was looking at the cost of two derailleurs, cassettes, chainrings, and chains for this event. So, after the first sticker shock, it won’t be that much different in the end.

I estimate that the Rohloff system will be 1.5 to 2 pounds heavier than an XT / XTR system, which I am willing to take considering the system’s additional advantages.

Because my companion (Mark) and I aren’t aiming to win the Trans Rockies, having the lightest bike on the course isn’t a priority. If I wanted an extremely light bike or to be crowned “King of the Mountains,” I could have thought differently; I might have gone with a titanium or aluminum hardtail and built it up to 22 lbs. And it might even make it through the event, but I’m not sure how much fun it would be on the downhills.

At the end of the day, the project bike will be my play bike and testing platform, thus weight is unimportant. Given all of the advantages over the disadvantages, it seemed evident that the Rohloff was the way to go.

The rest of the build

The various components are fitting together well. As additional components arrive, I’ll gradually build it up over the next week to two weeks. I’ll be weighing the bike/parts as I acquire them, and you’ll be able to watch the development of the bike as it comes together. When done, I expect the bike to weigh roughly 27.5 pounds.

Here’s a peek at the Trans Rockies Challenge construction I’m planning:

  • Frame: Moots Cinco Small (custom) 6.08lbs
  • Fork: 2006 Fox RLC 4lbs (uncut steerer)
  • Headset: Chris King 1 1/8″ Threadless 125g
  • Stem: Moots Ti Beam 165g (90×0)
  • Handlebars: Moots Low Rise Ti bar 230g
  • Brakes: Magura Marta SL Front 350g (110g 160mm rotor, 30g mounting hardware); Magura Marta SL Rear 370g (110g 160mm rotor, 30g mounting hardware)
  • Pedals: Shimano PD-M959 345g
  • Skewers: Salsa Flip-Offs 95g
  • Chain: Rohloff S-L-T99 300g
  • Tires: Kenda Blue Groove 26×2.0 L3R Pro 900g (front and back)
  • Seatpost: Moots 27.2×340mm Layback 220g
  • Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Ti 150g
  • Drivetrain: Rohloff Speedhub Disc with external shifter, chain tensioner, cables 2470g
  • Tubes: Generic 26″x1.75 175g x2 350g
  • Grips: ODI Lock On 135g
  • Rim: DT XR 4.1d 32h (rear rim) 425g
  • Spokes: DT Competition BLACK 2.0/1.8/2.0 mm 238mm 32pcs 176g
  • Nipples: Brass 32pcs 33g
  • Cranks: FSA carbon with XTR Large 46T chainring 535g
  • Bottom bracket: XTR M952 215g

Total: 26.80lbs

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